Japanese videophiles woke up to a pleasant surprise from Panasonic today, when they announced two new AVCHD camcorders--the HDC-SD1 records to SD and SDHC flash memory cards, and the HDC-DX1 records to mini DVDs. Both are three-chip camcorders, so they should offer better color accuracy and low-light quality than a single-chip model would. Both camcorders include 12X optical zoom lenses, 3-inch LCDs, and HDMI output.
The AVCHD format, developed jointly by Sony and Panasonic, was announced earlier this year and was included in Sony's HDR-SR1 and HDR-UX1 camcorders. The codec is based on MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (a.k.a. H.264), though the companies claim that it can produce high-quality video playback. So far, none of the AVCHD camcorders that have hit the market are taking full advantage of the codec's capabilities, so it's difficult to judge the true capabilities of the codec.
Despite the fact that Panasonic is owned by one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world, the company's U.S. press contact couldn't provide any information about the new camcorders. While we can't think of any reason why they wouldn't introduce these models in the U.S., Panasonic won't say yet whether these fancy, new camcorders will be available to be a part of your holiday season.